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Phoenix Assault Attorney

Have you or a loved one been arrested on assault charges in Phoenix, AZ? The state will begin to build its case against you right away. Don’t let them have an advantage – contact the experienced Phoenix assault lawyers at the Orent Law Offices, PLC for immediate assistance. We’ve been fighting for the people of Phoenix for more than three decades. When you need help, we’ll be there for you, too.

Our Arizona criminal lawyers know your future is on the line. That’s why we’ll do everything we can to help you protect it. Give our law firm a call today to set up a free consultation and learn more.

Assault Defined by Arizona Law

The crime of assault is outlined in Arizona statute ARS 13-1203. According to the law, assault involves intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing harm to another person, or causing another to fear physical harm, or touching with the intent to cause harm or provocation.

Now, this definition can be confusing. However, the most important factor for assault is a person’s state of mind at the time of the incident. The law requires that you either had the desire to cause harm or that you knew that your conduct would likely hurt someone. Note that it doesn’t matter whether or not you knew that what you were doing was against the law.

Assault also includes reckless actions that lead to harm or fear of harm. To qualify, you must have acted knowing of the risk that your actions would hurt someone, and you chose to act anyway. An example would be throwing a knife across a crowded room. Here, you may not have intended to hurt anyone, but your actions would constitute reckless behavior under the circumstances.

It is important to note that the state does not distinguish between assault and battery. In other words, assault includes both the act of placing someone in fear of harm and actually harming someone. While some states separate these actions into two different crimes, Arizona does not.

Penalties for Assault

The type of penalty you can face for assault depends on the type of assault, as defined by the law.

A simple assault is considered a misdemeanor. A class 3 misdemeanor comes with the lowest punishment. The maximum sentence can include:

  • 30 days in jail,
  • A fine of up to $500, and
  • 1 year of probation.

This would apply in cases where your assault involved intentionally touching another person with the intent to injure or insult them, but your actions did not result in any physical injury.

Now, placing a person in fear of imminent injury but not touching them carries a stiffer penalty. Here, your actions would be classified as a class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of:

  • 4 years behind bars,
  • $750 in fines, and
  • 2 years of probation.

Note that if you recklessly, but not intentionally committed either of the crimes mentioned above, it is also considered a class 2 misdemeanor.

Aggravated Assault

Under certain circumstances, an assault can rise to the level of what is known as “aggravated” assault. An aggravated assault is considered a felony and is punished more severely than simple assault.

This type of crime occurs when your actions meet the definition of simple assault, but include one (or more) of the following:

  • The assault causes serious physical injury to the victim. Serious physical injury means that there is a reasonable risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or impairment or loss of a limb or organ.
  • You used a deadly weapon or dangerous object as a weapon. This includes any item that is made for lethal use, such as a knife or gun. However, household and everyday items can also fall under this category. Examples would be a baseball bat or a vehicle.
  • The assault was committed using force that caused temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any body organ or part of the body.
  • The assault was committed while the victim was bound or physically restrained.
  • The assault was committed after entering someone’s home with the intent to assault the victim once inside.
  • You were over 18 years of age and the victim was under 15 years of age.
  • The assault involved a police officer’s weapon or occurred while trying to take the officer’s weapon.
  • The assault was committed while violating an order of protection or restraining order.
  • The assault was committed by someone imprisoned or in custody.

Further, an aggravated assault charge can be based on the type of victim involved. If you have reason to know that the victim was any of the following – particularly if they were in engaged in their professional duties, or the assault was in reaction to something they did in their professional duties (such as taking revenge on them) – aggravated assault penalties would apply:

  • Police officer or peace officer
  • Judicial officer
  • Constable
  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Teacher
  • School employee
  • Licensed health care professionals
  • Park rangers
  • Public defenders, and
  • Criminal prosecutors.

Finally, choking or obstructing the airway of a victim is also considered aggravated assault, provided the victim is covered under the domestic violence statute. The domestic violence statute applies if the victim is a spouse/ex-spouse, romantic partner, co-parent or pregnant with your child. If also applies if the person is your roommate, sibling, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild of you or your spouse.

Penalties for Aggravated Assault

In Arizona, aggravated assault is a felony. Like simple assault, the severity of the punishment depends on how the charge is classified. The offense can be class 2 through class 6, depending on the circumstances.

Note that the state has different sentencing guidelines in cases where the assault is considered a “dangerous offense.” A dangerous offense is defined as any offense involving the use of a deadly weapon or the act of intentionally or knowingly causing physical injury to someone.

As you can see, the penalties for aggravated assault can be complicated. For that reason, it is important to speak with an attorney if you are charged with this crime. However, below are a few examples:

  • A class 6 felony applies to an assault against a police officer, school teacher, or any other victim belonging to one of the protected groups outlined above, provided there was no serious injury. This carries a punishment of up to 2 years in prison.
  • A class 5 felony applies to an assault committed by someone currently in custody or in prison. This carries a punishment of a prison term from 4 to 6 years.
  • A class 3 “non-dangerous” felony applies if no weapon was used but the assault seriously hurt someone or caused substantial disfigurement. This carries a punishment of a prison term from 2 to 8.75 years.
  • A class 3 “dangerous” felony applies if a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument was used. This carries a punishment of a prison term from 5 to 15 years.
  • A class 2 felony applies for an assault against a police officer using a deadly weapon or resulting in serious personal injury. This carries a punishment of a prison term from 7 to 21 years.

In cases where the victim was under 15 years old, the offense is also considered a violation of the Dangerous Crimes Against a Child Act. This is a more serious charge, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 27 years.

Note that your sentence can be increased if you have prior offenses on your record. For example, if you had two previous convictions and are found guilty of a class 2 felony, you may receive a prison sentence of up to 35 years.

Defenses to Assault

Keep in mind that the prosecution has the burden of proof In every assault case in Arizona. This means that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly injured someone or threatened to do so. This is a high burden, and you have the opportunity to challenge the evidence presented against you.

Here are some defenses that can potentially be used to defend against criminal assault charges in Phoenix, Arizona:

Lack of Required State of Mind

One way to challenge the criminal charges is to establish that you did not have the required state of mind at the time of the incident. For example, in an aggravated assault case based on your knowledge that the victim was a police officer, evidence that the officer was in plain clothes and never identified himself as an officer could be helpful to your defense.

Behavior Was Not Intentional/Reckless

Another potential defense would be to call into question the prosecution’s claim that you acted intentionally or recklessly. Remember, negligent behavior or making mistakes doesn’t rise to the level of criminal conduct. So, for example, evidence that you simply tripped and fell on someone would help disprove any claim that you committed an assault.

You Acted in Self-Defense

Arguing self-defense is another way to challenge the prosecution’s case. This requires evidence that you were acting to protect yourself from an assault. Note that you must show that your actions were necessary for your protection. This means that a reasonable person in the same situation would believe that your behavior was immediately necessary to protect against another’s unlawful use of force.

To be considered self-defense, the amount of force must be proportional to the threat. For example, pulling a gun on someone that is threatening to punch you would likely be considered disproportionate. Keep in mind that this defense also includes actions taken to protect others, provided that person would have been justified in using self-defense.

Finally, you may have defenses available to you based on your constitutional rights. For example, if the police conducted an illegal search or you were not read your Miranda rights as part of an arrest, this may prevent the prosecution from presenting certain key evidence.

Contact Our Phoenix Assault Defense Lawyers Today

These issues can be complex, so it is important to reach out to a qualified Phoenix criminal defense attorney at Orent Law Offices, PLC for legal advice to make sure your rights are protected. Fortunately, we have over 30 years of trial experience. We understand assault is a serious charge and we will work tirelessly in your defense. Contact the Orent law firm today for a free initial consultation.